Sublime Symmetry
Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3JT
1 March 2024 – 6 October 2024

Opening information

10am to 5pm, daily


About the Exhibition

Symmetry is synonymous with beauty in art. William De Morgan used this, and many other mathematical devices in his ceramic designs to ensure that his elaborate and humourous patterns had clear structure and were aesthetically pleasing.

Mathematics was at the core of William’s artwork. He once stated that Euclid’s Book I, an ancient text on linear geometry, was ‘the most enchanting novel in literature. His father, Augustus De Morgan, was a leading mathematician of the Victorian period and this inspired William to create sublime symmetry, pattern and shape in all of his designs.

The exhibition features 80 ceramics and explores the geometrical underpinning of each to demonstrate William’s consideration of the form of his pieces and how he adapted his Islamic-inspired floral motifs to cover the surface of his pieces.

Games for little ones and a family trail are available to lead budding mathematicians – young and old – around the symmetry, shape and ceramics on display.

William De Morgan (1839-1917) was undoubtedly the most intriguing and inventive ceramic designer of the late Victorian period. His conjuring of fantastical beasts and manipulation of meandering flora and fauna fascinated his contemporaries and still captivates today.

During his career, William De Morgan revolutionised the field of ceramic design with his reinvention of lusterware, dedication to exploring Middle Eastern designs, invention and use of his own kilns, and his wonderful patterns.

Through examination of the mathematical devices used in his designs, Sublime Symmetry presents De Morgan as a natural mathematician and talented draughtsman.

This exhibition has been freshly curated for RAMM by Sarah Hardy, Director of the De Morgan Museum, and features objects not previously exhibited as part of the tour. On loan from the Trustees of the De Morgan Foundation.

Education Programme

The exhibition is supported by an education programme and a resource pack which can be used in the classroom to support a trip to the exhibition or as a stand-alone resource for teaching mathematics at KS2.

Packed with lesson plans and worksheets to inspire pupils to see mathematics in the beautiful artwork.

Download the pack

Sublime Symmetry began as a co-curation project between the De Morgan Foundation and primary school teachers and pupils to discover how best they might like to use the ceramics for learning and teaching. The exhibition is divided into three parts; pattern, shape and symmetry, which are all key elements in the National Curriculum for KS2 mathematics.


We rely on your generous support to care for and display this wonderful collection